Keeping up with the Jones' and Doing so Sustainably
The time has come that we can no longer turn a blind eye on the environmental degradation of this planet. However, because our lives are so complex, and our societal wants and needs are so engrained, actually making practical changes has been somewhat of a challenge. On the brighter side of things, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to modern day manufacturing advancements, consumers now have at their fingertips, the ability to make a viable impact and a bold statement with their purchasing power. One such area where Americans spend an enormous amount of money is in the housing sector, both on initial construction costs and later in remodeling costs. Thus, it is worth celebrating the increased opportunities of sustainable living thanks to the emergence of bamboo into the world of flooring and furniture making. Unfortunately, in times past, significant portions of the population associated the term sustainable living with tree hugging hippies. Thankfully though, eco-awareness has gone mainstream while maintaining elements of style and economic viability. Look in any direction and one will find environmentally friendly products popping up in remarkable numbers.
In terms of bamboo, the champion of sustainable elegant flooring, there is much to be learned about its past, present and future. Many people are unaware of the remarkable properties of this plant, and in fact, most have a hard time seeing bamboo as anything other than a strange piece of foliage often found being sold in disfigured shapes. Even further, consumer awareness about this splendid species is lacking such that most people could not even name the plant family to which bamboo belongs. One might presume that because it grows in what could be described as a spindly-trunked forest, that bamboo is a tree. This is not the case. Another might deduce that it is some sort of flower given its prevalence in florist shops. This also is not the case. Rather, bamboo is a grass. Of course, this is not the type of grass one grows in his back yard, and for good reason given the plant's growth rate. Bamboo can grow an amazing 12 inches a day, which obviously elevates its sustainability and regenerative properties when compared to wood.
In terms of the biological origins and characteristics of this plant, there are numerous bamboo species available both in the wild and in the marketplace. In fact, over a thousand bamboo species have been identified by scientists. This grass can be found in a multitude of places ranging from Asia to Africa, and even parts of the Americas. Stateside, Bamboo has become quite popular as a landscaping tool given its rapid rate of growth and its functionality as a natural privacy screen. On the other end of the spectrum, besides being an ecologically responsible flooring choice, bamboo's culinary uses are vast. For example, bamboo shoots are a common staple of traditional Chinese and Indonesian meals. The leaves are also used in various dishes as wrappers, similar to the use of seaweed in sushi. Do not run out, though, and begin eating this grass raw, for the shoots can be toxic depending on the particular species at hand.
On a slightly deeper and more serious level, bamboo resonates a wealth of tradition and spirituality for many groups of people around the world. For example, bamboo has been described by one group of people as a symbol of friendship, while another likens the blooming of the grass to impending famine. Regardless of one's spiritual preference, bamboo has the power to elicit a fairly strong response from people across cultures, spanning from Japan to India.
At any rate, bamboo as a flooring choice is sure to bring a sense of serenity into your home. The light, and yet bright, tone of bamboo flooring brings to the interior space the illusion of natural light, even when windows are scarce. Further, the grain is subtle and graceful, making bamboo flooring perfect for any room of the home. As the average size of homes increases, homeowners are left with more interior space to decorate, and this for some, can be a daunting task. However, because of bamboos versatility, it can accommodate the design preferences of a wide array of audiences. As previously stated, given that bamboo does not have a distastefully domineering texture, this flooring option will likely match the textiles of your sofa and linens regardless of what they are.
Bottom line, this is an exciting time to be alive. Finally, we as humans are learning that we can surround ourselves with the luxuries we desire, while minimizing our footprint on the earth. With every dollar you spend, you are relaying a message of your values and your priorities, whether you realize it or not. Today is the day to align your actions with your morals. Thankfully, you can choose bamboo flooring knowing that the decision you make today will not impair the quality of life your children are going to live tomorrow.
- Steffen, Alex, ed. World Changing: A User's Guide for the 21st Century. New York: Abrams, 2006.